Illinois and Rutgers football meet on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Find the score and live updates below.
Both teams have not won a game in Big Ten play so far this season and have lost its first two in-conference games. Illinois has lost to Nebraska and Iowa by a combined score of 73-22, while Rutgers has lost to Nebraska and Ohio State by a combined score of 83-17.
Illinois and Rutgers kick off at 12 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network.
Illinois-Rutgers football score, live updates
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Illinois-Rutgers football preview
Both teams come into the game having lost at least their last two games, with the Scarlet Knights last win coming on Sept. 16 over Morgan State and the Illini’s last victory taking place on Sept. 9 over Western Kentucky.
The Scarlet Knights and the Illini have only 3 meetings all-time. In 2005, Illinois won 33-30 at home. The two programs met the next season, with Rutgers winning 33-0 at home in 2006. Rutgers and Illinois didn’t meet again until last season. Last year’s game was also the teams’ first game as Big Ten teams. Illinois won big at Rutgers, 24-7, on the road. That was one of only two Big Ten wins for Illinois last season, as Rutgers finished conference play 0-9.
The Illini will be counting on quarterback Jeff George Jr. to step it up from his first start last week in a loss to Iowa. George Jr. was named the starter before the game with the Hawkeyes and was 22-of-45 in the game for 246 yards, but threw three interceptions as well. Fumbles have also been a problem for the Illini, as they’ve put the ball on the ground nine times, though they’ve only lost it once. Their defense has also been a fumble-producer with nine forced fumbles and four recoveries.
Both teams have struggled to run the ball, with the Illini’s Mike Epstein coming in as the leading rusher, averaging 6.1 yards per carry but having only three touchdowns to show for it. Gus Edwards is the leading rusher for the Scarlet Knights with 314 yards and averages 4.2 YPC with two scores, but it’s clear the team uses a number of backs with nine touchdowns on the ground.
Rutgers and coach Chris Ash have a little bit more certainty and direction now than they might have had previously, as Athletics Director Pat Hobbs got a contract extension through the 2021-22 season. As for on the field though, they’ll need a lift and hope to get one with the possible return of talented wide receiver and kick returner Janarion Grant, who led the team in all-purpose yardage and sat out against Ohio State.
In 2016, Grant only played in four games — due to an ankle injury — but still amassed 348 yards of total offense. Listed as a wide receiver, Grant had 20 catches in those four games for 210 yards. He also recorded 16 carries for 138 yards and three scores.
Grant is the most explosive player the Scarlet Knights have, and the 5-foot-10 play-maker was named to the 2017 Maxwell Award preseason watch list. Rutgers is entering this game coming off a bye last weekend. In the week prior to the team’s bye, the Scarlet Knights lost to Ohio State, 56-0.
Coming into the Illini’s third Big Ten game of the season, the team is fresh off a 45-16 road loss to Iowa. Despite the 29-point differential, Illinois outgained Iowa, 446-441. The two teams both had 20 first downs, but the Illini had four turnovers.
Grant is the most electric player to watch on the outside for the Scarlet Knights, but for the Illini, Mike Dudek leads the team in receptions (19), yards (215) and is tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with one. The only other player to have one touchdown reception is Epstein. Malik Turner is second on the team in both receptions and yardage, with 17 and 167, respectively.